Thinking Citizen Blog — Joe Biden’s Weakest Point — Not Putting Disadvantaged Children First
Thinking Citizen Blog — Friday is Education and Education Policy Day
Today’s Topic: Joe Biden’s Weakest Point — not putting disadvantaged children first
I voted for Barack Obama in 2008 because I thought he would put disadvantaged children first. I had high hopes. While personally he was a wonderful model for all children as an exemplary spouse and father, his policies fell far short of what I had expected — a massive roll-out of a Harlem Children Zone-like program across the country as he had promised in a campaign speech in Harlem. In fact, his “Dear Colleague” letter of 2014 on school discipline went entirely in the opposite direction. (See second link below for details). Nevertheless, under his watch, the amount of federal funds available for charter schools increased and life-transforming opportunities were provided to thousands of disadvantaged children (many Black and Hispanic). This use of federal funds was vigorously opposed by the teachers unions who called for the resignation of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in 2014. Joe Biden, by contrast, is 100% a proud union man and 100% opposed to charter schools. Today’s post was inspired by a distressing editorial that highlighted Biden’s uncompromising views on the issue dearest to my heart — realizing the dream that every child born reaches their full potential for joy, productivity, and responsibility. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
“NO PRIVATELY FUNDED CHARTER SCHOOL…WOULD RECEIVE A PENNY OF FEDERAL MONEY” (Joe Biden)
1. If you have not seen the film “Waiting for Superman” you must see it. It tells the story of lives transformed by great charter schools — like the Harlem Children’s Zone (started by Geoffrey Canada), the KIPP School, and the Success Academy.
2. I will never forget the tears of the mothers whose children were not lucky enough to get a place at one of these schools. Their dreams shattered. Their children stuck in failing schools with low standards and low expectations. The waiting lists for such schools in New York City alone runs in the tens of thousands.
3. These schools have figured out how to close the racial achievement gap. And the formula is simple: high standards and high expectations for academic achievement and behavior. The same formula as such elite schools as Sidwell Friends in DC or Milton Academy in Boston or the Dalton School in NYC.
“YOU’LL HAVE AN NEA MEMBER IN THE WHITE HOUSE” (Joe Biden)
1. The NEA is the “largest labor union and professional interest group in the United States.” (Wikipedia) It has 2.29 million members. Jill Biden, Joe’s wife, is a member.
2. “You don’t just have a partner in the White House, you’ll have an NEA member in the White House. And if I’m not listening, I’m going to be sleeping alone in the Lincoln Bedroom.” (Joe Biden)
3. “When we win this election, we’re going to get the support you need and the respect you deserve,” (Joe Biden, addressing the NEA).
NB: The double standard: “If a Republican presidential candidate spoke to a special-interest group with that kind of amorous devotion, the caterwauling in the press would never end. Or what about this line from Mr. Biden: “This is going to be a teacher-oriented Department of Education.” Oh, not a student-oriented one?” (Wall Street Journal)
WHO COMES FIRST: TEACHERS OR MINORITY CHILDREN?
1, I fully support universal pre-K, as does Joe Biden. But I am also 100% opposed to teacher tenure, which is one of the greatest obstacles to equality of opportunity for minority children. Tenure is the cornerstone of NEA policy.
2. The big question is: kids first or teachers first. Biden puts teachers first as any prudent Democrat running for office would. Elizabeth Warren supported charter schools — before her political ambitions took over.
3. It is tempting to equate the interests of teachers, their unions, and their students. This is naive. Job security is the primary goal of unions. This is not in the best interests of students. Especially minority students.
FINAL NOTE: IF YOU HAVE NOT CHECKED OUT MY EDUCATION FIRST PARTY WEBSITE AND MY 2018 US SENATE CAMPAIGN WEBSITE, PLEASE CHECK THEM OUT BEFORE JUDGING THE POST ABOVE. CONTEXT MATTERS. LINKS BELOW.
Please share the coolest thing you learned in the last week related to education or education policy. Or the coolest thought however half-baked you had. Or the coolest, most important thing you learned in your life related to education or education policy that the rest of us may have missed.
Or just some random education-related fact that blew you away. This is your chance to make some one’s day. Or to cement in your own mind something that you might otherwise forget. Or to think more deeply than otherwise about something that is dear to your heart.